Tuesday, December 09, 2008

10 Ways to Excite Your Blog's Readers

A lot of people talk about ways you can get more readers to your blog. I say why just worry about trying to get more readers, instead why not try to excite and thrill them?!? Here's ten ways I try to do that, but as you are reading these tips, always keep one point in mind; Look for ways to give your readers a sense of ownership over the content created on your blog. I always say that this blog is 'co-created content'. And it is, I write the post, and you guys run with it and leave amazing comments. The end result is that, thanks to you, the value of the post increases dramatically, because of your comments. So NEVER take your readers for granted, and ALWAYS look for ways to appreciate them, and give them a greater sense of ownership over your blog. Because that's what they deserve. Here's some ways you can get started.

1 - Say 'Thank You!' early and often. Never forget that without your readers, you are blogging for yourself. If you're ok with that fine, but for most of us, individuals and companies, we are blogging for an audience. Putting forth even a small amount of time to let your readers know that you appreciate their time goes a LONG way. Notice if you comment on this post, the first thing you will see is "Thank you SO much for commenting!"

2 - Ask for feedback. Let your readers know that you always want their input. When you raise a point or a question in a post, ask your readers for their thoughts. Look at my post on self-promotion, it currently has over 20 comments. The value of that post increased significantly because of the feedback via comments, from this blog's readers.

3 - Stalk your readers. Let's be honest, for most of your readers, reading your blog is NOT the highlight of their day. Most of the time, they will be on other sites, on other blogs. When you find them on other sites, such as Twitter, interact with them there. Twitter is still the top referring site to this blog, and while a lot of that traffic comes from links I tweet to posts here, much of it comes from people finding my blog via the link on my profile. Give them a reason to want to learn more about you.

4 - Comment on your readers' blogs. Remember, the best way to grow your blog, is to leave it. It's also a wonderful way to excite your readers. When you take the time to read THEIR blogs, and comment on THEIR blogs, you send the message to your readers that you are serious about interacting with them, and that you appreciate them. And use BackType to track the comments you are leaving. I wrote up a quick review of BackType yesterday for Search Engine Guide, but it's a wonderful way to not only track the comments you leave, but to also make sure you are leaving plenty of comments on OTHER blogs, and not just yours.

5 - Add your readers' blogs to your blogroll. Even now, I am constantly updating my blogroll to add blogs that I find interesting, and many of them are from my readers. For example, Liz Strauss left a comment here the other day, and I immediately thought 'Wait...do I have Liz' blog on my blogroll?' I checked, and I didn't, so I added it. Now you shouldn't add blogs to your blogrolls just because you want your readers to comment, but if you read the blogs that your commenters write, add them to the blogroll. It's just another way to say 'thank you', and help give your readers a bit more ownership over the content created on your blog.

6 - Add a widget to your sidebar that shows the pictures of your readers. This is the only reason why I keep the MyBlogLog widget up on the sidebar. I want my readers to be able to come here, and see their picture on the widget. *I* want to see their picture. And adding that widget is another way to create space on the blog that's just for my readers.

7 - Put the focus on your best commenters. How many times has this happened on your blog; You leave a post, and it gets a couple of comments, pretty much agreeing with you. Then someone comes along with 'Ok Mack all this sounds great, but I'm going to come at this from a different angle..', and they launch into this amazing comment that changes the entire tone of the conversation, with now half the readers siding with your points, the other half siding with the commenter. And the end result is, thanks to the spark from that one comment, you now have a vibrant conversation happening. Edit your post and add a 'Window' to the comments. How I do this is by taking that great comment that sparked the discussion, and I add it to the end of the post, like this: "PS: Check out this amazing comment by Shannon Paul- " And when you add the comment to the post, link to the person's blog that left the comment. Again, this person left a great comment that sparked a great discussion. Why not thank them for that?

8 - Link to your readers' blogs. Every morning I go to Twitter and as I am going through my feeds, I link to posts I find interesting on Twitter. And you'd better best believe that I go out of my way to link to people that I know are reading and commenting here.

9 - Actually care about the people that read your blog. Yes it might sound hokey, but you have to actually give a damned about the people that take some time out of their busy day to read your blog. When you do that, you start to think about ways you can put the focus on your readers. You start to look for reasons to link to them, to read their blogs, to tweet links to their best posts.

10 - Ask for help. What did I miss? How do you excite your blog's readers?

UPDATE: Check out the comment that David Armano left to this post via Bubble Comment.


Anonymous said...

Mack, I found you through twitter - thanks for the article. This is the best thing I've read about blogs in some time. It makes perfect sense and I'm going to implement these tips on my blog too (www.lifelongproject.com).

I think it's too easy to focus on getting people to your site and then ignore them once they're visiting. Thanks! This is why I love the Internet.

Joseph Phillips

Anonymous said...

Hi Mack - I found you through Twitter, too, and you always have good things to say. One point on this - this seems silly enough but blogs should have a point of view. It's great if people read things they agree with, but action items and strong opinions are easier to get excited about, right?? However, it's easy to see through blatant attempts to be contrarian or just mean to get a bunch of comments. Action items - like this entry - are extremely helpful and relevant, I find. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

My suggested #10 - be interesting, and point to interesting stuff. Don't assume that everyone sees all the great stuff you find. Share it!

Anonymous said...

Hey Mack,
I found you through Twitter too. I think the point is that a blog is still a two-way conversation. I write, you read. You comment, I read. It can't just be me spouting out my thoughts. If I want to really impact people, I have to have that two-way street.

Any thoughts on how to encourage more people to comment? Obviously asking questions in your post is a start, but any more opinions?


Anonymous said...

Hello, Mack

I'm not ashamed to admit that I'm new to all this: blogging and social media, and learning from people like you.

My website is quite successful, but I had some previous blog attempts that were a total disaster.

I guess they failed because I focused on professional issues, and dealt with them in a very formal way.

You said that social media is a lotta damned work, I think blogging is no different, am I right? The same wise advice applies to blogging: Don't use it just to promote yourself, but to "communicate" to people instead - share, talk about interesting stuff (not necessarily related to your work), find out what people's interests are. It takes some effort to actually connect to people...

And I totally agree with your "rule no. 7" - people who challenge our perspective are great contributors...

Keep up the good work,

Anonymous said...

Hi Mack: You may not know this, but I've been reading The Viral Garden for years! The ability to create a community not only excites readers in the short-term, it also keeps them around. I'm hoping I can have a fraction of your success on my new blog.

Anonymous said...

So all this time I thought I was stalking you, but you were actually stalking me? Hmm....

Only kidding! Great post! People do tend to forget blogging is a community tool and you need to care about your readers if you want them to care about you!

Anonymous said...

I just twittered about this post. I must admit Its a really well written article. I Hope I will follow all these mentioned by you. It was nice knowing your blog

Anonymous said...

I think that if you comment on your readers blog posts it will show that you do appreciate them. There's also nothing to lose by doing this. It is not like they will be upset with you.

Anonymous said...

Hi Mack and all the readers,

Some great advices. I try to end up each article I publish on my blog with a question and with an invitation to comment. I post a thank you for your feedback to each and everyone that comment on my blog.

I also have CommentsLuv and I've made my blog a DoFollow so that the people that post on my blog to get something in return.

I try to write interesting articles and to provide original content. I always twitt about the articles I like and many times I twitt about my comment on a certain article.

PS :I'm WebOptimization on Twitter

Anonymous said...

I think interacting with your readers is exciting for them, but as the blogger, it is also very exciting for me!

I never take my readers for granted; in fact, I just thanked each and every commenter for the past 2 years by linking to them on my blog in one post. My readers (and commenters) ROCK!

Thanks so much, Mack. It is great to see you helping others focus on "their customers". :)

Rachael Rydbeck said...

What truly fabulous suggestions! Thanks for taking the post this. I can't wait to apply my new found knowledge!

Anonymous said...

Great post Mack! Number seven is a particularly good idea. I agree that if blog writers keep in mind that it's a two-way convo and not just a broadcast, it will go a long way to keeping the interests of the blog's readers.

Anonymous said...

There's so much here for the new blogger to learn. Thanks Mack, your posts are always worth reading.

Kitzie Stern

Menina Digital said...

Just found you on Twitter as well and really liked the easy language you talk to us when writing. Just post it to twitter coz I believe it helps begginers like me to have a better understanding on how things work and which path leads to sucess=) Tks for your wisdom!


SkiSullivan said...

Good counsel here to help bloggers realize that the entire Social Media model is based on mutual respect DESPITE the gurus who would have you exploit every contact for the SEO positioning.

Doing it well, and doing it right brings the audience and the rewards.

I liked David's bubble comment too.

Nicola said...

Hi Mack,

Nice to meet you, really liked this article.

Am now following you on Twitter and look forward to reading more.

The Fantasy Football Hub said...

Hey Mack, really enjoyed your post. It was dead on for sure. As someone who's trying to grow readership in my BLOG, these kinds of useful tips are priceless. Thanks for sharing these with all of us. All the best, Steve O

Anonymous said...

Thanks Mack. This was helpful.

I've been reading the viral garden for a while on my G reader - usually didn't comment, but hey, this post tempted me into it - almost a way to raise my hand from the last bench to grab the teacher's (your) attention!

Shall sure leave notes more often!

On another note, if your blog is popular, wouldn't you sometimes have simple attention seekers for commenters?

Despite having honest intentions, I sometimes hesitate in talking too much on comments for the fear that it might be seen as an attention seeking rant!

I don't know if I'll get active with blogging, but would sure love it if all blogs I read, start following your principles!

Thanks again!

Barcelona Bob said...

Some excellent tips there. I especially like the idea of "Add your readers' blogs to your blogroll".

I till try that - as it certainly gives people mroe reason to recheck your blog and get more involved. Very useful post. Cheers!

Valeria Dance said...

Mack, this is a very interesting blogpost, full of useful advice. I have my own blog too (www.worldbellydancer.org) and I really like it when people comment on my posts, as it makes me feel like I am really sharing something. I am going to apply your advice soon and see if it works. By the way, I got to know about your blog through word of mouth.